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IN THE PRESENCE OF NATURE ($20) is an enjoyable, albeit imperfect, image and music DVD. This new age music title was originally marketed to physicians for the relaxing therapeutic quality of harpist Hilary Stagg’s music, but is now being made available to the general public through Lightyear Entertainment. The musical portion of the program is really quite wonderful and goes a long way to induce a sense of tranquility in the listener. However, the visual quality of the program comes up short- especially in regards to the DVD format of displaying. While supposedly showcasing the beauty of national parks and nature, all of the cinematography looks as though it was either comprised of unused documentary footage, or leftovers from the productions of wildlife and nature television shows. The photography usually looks uninspired, grainy and flat, which may reflect that IN THE PRESENCE OF NATURE was originally conceived as an "industrial" product marketed to the medical profession.

IN THE PRESENCE OF NATURE comes with standard 4:3 full screen film images transferred to video somewhat below the quality that DVD can reproduce. The picture seems a bit soft in places and the photography looks like it originated on 16mm. Colors are a bit askew, but generally vary between adequate and sallow, never really casting off that documentary look. Contrast seems a bit truncated and as I mentioned above there is a good deal of film grain in the image. The Dolby Digital 4.0 channel soundtrack is very pleasing; with the sound mix allowing Hilary Stagg’s music to wash over the viewer. Fidelity is good, and even with the sparse orchestrations; the music produces a decent bottom end. Music and video conform the interactive menus to the rest of the program, with a short biography of Hilary Stagg serving as the only extra.

IN THE PRESENCE OF NATURE is like a very good new age CD, in which the images have been added as an afterthought. If this type of material appeals to you, you should definitely rent before buying.


Hilary Stagg: In the Presence of Nature (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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